What is it?
We don’t fully understand all the benefits of yoga therapy, but we do understand there are definite health benefits from doing it. Despite being around for centuries, we have only begun to understand the therapeutic healing powers of yoga.
Yoga therapy started gaining traction in the late 1990’s. In fact, in 1998 the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), linked yoga therapy to helping those who suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome. There has been little research in this area, but there is more evidence coming out about the positive health effects of yoga therapy in treating certain medical conditions.
So, what is yoga therapy? Well, even though yoga has been around for a long time, only recently has yoga therapy come to the scene. Yoga therapy is different than standard yoga. So, let’s first explain the various forms of yoga that exist today, including (not all inclusive):
- Ashtanga-sequencing 6 specific poses each building and flowing into the next; typically, the series of movements are repeated multiple times throughout the session
- Bikram-there are 26 specific poses performed in heated rooms averaging 105 degrees; it is a 90-min class sequencing the 26 poses
- Hatha-gentle yoga including holding basic forms coupled with deep breathing
- Hot yoga-similar to Bikram, but without the required 26 poses; performed in a heated room with various yoga movements
- Kundalini-repetitious exercise movements in conjunction with intense breathing
- Lyngar-focuses on perfecting posture and movement and typically uses blocks, blankets, or straps to help hold positions
- Restorative-relaxation yoga; gentle movements held for several minutes
- Vinyasa-movement and breathing are coordinated, there typically is not posing, but instead movements can be rhythmic and fast paced
- Yin Yoga-meditative yoga where poses are held for several minutes; the goal is to improve or restore flexibility and movement
Yoga therapy is slightly different as the movements are adapted to the health needs of the individual. Typically, yoga therapy is done either one on one, or in small groups. Yoga movements vary depending on an individual’s health challenges. The goal is to manage the individual’s condition by reducing symptoms, restoring balance, improving posture and breathing, as well as improving mental attitude.
What to expect
Yoga therapy is fairly new to the market, so it may be difficult to find in your area. As of today, there is no special certification or training that a yoga therapy instructor goes through. For some instructors, it is the knowledge and skill set of a being physical therapist joined with the passion and love for yoga that sets them apart. Not all yoga therapy instructors are PTs, but some are which gives the instructor an advantage to helping the client in a more holistic approach.
Because of individual needs, most yoga therapy classes are one on one. There are certainly those who offer small class sizes, but the key with yoga therapy is to ensure the right movements and breathing techniques are provided for the medical condition(s) an individual may be suffering from. This requires skill and knowledge of medical conditions as well as focus and attention to understanding how to perform exercises correctly in order to prevent injury.
Is Yoga Therapy Right for You?
Discussing yoga therapy with your medical provider is best advised. Each individual has unique medical challenges and may require different skills sets from an instructor. Finding the right yoga therapy instructor for is important.
To find a qualified therapist that performs yoga therapy, please click Find A Clinic.